The Cloud is awesome when it comes to file storage. Companies like Dropbox see to it that your stuff is synced and available wherever you go. But what's next for this niche?
Dropbox found its beginnings in Houston just four short years ago, which might come as a surprise when considering how often it's been in the headlines. For starters, the platform's user count has grown to a healthy 45 million, up from 25 million in April, 2011. In October of this year, the company scored a quarter of a billion US dollars in funding, which is a fairly large amount compared to what most startups raise these days.
This level of success can be partially attributed to a little role reversal. Work tools used to be considered better than home tools-- they were professional and expensive, and once upon a time that meant efficient. Today, that's no longer the case. Today, consumer tools (which are often free) have become easier to use than enterprise solutions, and employees have opted to adopt them into their work flows.
The tech world's leaders have taken note of this turnabout, and have been doing everything in their power to comply (see Social Business and Enterprise 2.0). For example, Forbes magazine wrote a piece that detailed how the late Steve Jobs tried to buy Dropbox in 2009. Founder and CEO Drew Houston said no. Then Apple went on to launch iCloud just this year, a product that is aimed at the cloud storage market.
What's in Store
Dropbox aims to be much more than just cloud storage. "People think of us as a storage folder," said Houston in a conversation with Om Malik during the GigaOM RoadMap 2011 summit in San Francisco. "But that's just chapter one of all the things we want to do."
While Houston wouldn't go into much detail about what's next for his company, he did hint that better uploading and file management are both on the forefront of their minds. “The way we manage files on a computer is insane. We’ve had this system for decades, but there’s still no one button that says ‘put this online,’” he said.
The platform's ability to store metadata in addition to photos was also mentioned. "We can index all that metadata in the pictures and then tell you where the picture is taken, and maybe give you all the pictures taken within a ten mile radius.”
Competition? Why Yes, We'd Love Some
Of course, Houston's company is not alone in this market. Box.net is probably Dropbox's biggest competition as of today, as it specifically targets enterprise users with consumer steez. But Dropbox is obviously able to carry its own weight, and the numbers indicate that more lbs are on the way.
Check out Houston and Malik's recent conversation about the Dropbox road map here:
Also, if you've used the service, tell us in the comment section below whether or not you liked it and why. And if you've also used Box.net, help our readers out by dropping some notes about how the platforms compete.